I didnt know who Charles Vess was but after reading this album, both written and illustrated by him, I now know what he should be: an illustrator, and nothing else. Actually, Ill limit that even further, he should illustrate environments, and nothing else. The landscapes are beautiful, he has a real sense for the dramatic and also for small details, but the characters look extremely stiff, the heads are often misshapen and the facial expressions are all but nonexistent.
He does manage to do a great job depicting Spider-Man in costume though, with all that flailing of limbs and weird positions that has become almost mandatory ever since Todd McFarlane, and I must praise him for that. But where at least some aspects of his illustrations have depth and come alive, the story is just as flat and yawn-inspiring as the the faces of Peter, Mary Jane, and all the other seeming puppets. There just is no drama, no build up, no excitement in the story at all. One would think that the dark brooding, inspiring landscapes would help the reader get drawn into the story, but sadly, I felt completely uninterested in how it would all end, I just kept turning page after page and wondering who these people claiming to be Peter and Mary-Jane Parker really were, what they had done to the originals, and why I should care about their fate in this utterly boring story.
Sad to say, this one is a Spider-Man story that you should not bother with, as opposed to the vast majority of albums featuring my favorite hero in tights.